Alabama-Mississippi St. Preview
Alabama Crimson Tide at Mississippi State Bulldogs
Alabama coach Nick Saban clearly was in no mood to rehash his team's 46-41 loss to Louisiana State when he met with media to discuss the Crimson Tide's upcoming outing against Mississippi State on Saturday in Starkville, saying the focus is on "how we complete the season."
Despite the loss, the Tide (8-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) clearly remain in contention for their sixth consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff.
"We have kind of a legacy around here that we've had only one team in the last 12 years that's lost more than one game in a regular season," Saban said, referring to the 2010 Tide team that finished the regular season 9-3. "I'd like for this team to continue that."
The Tide haven't lost back-to-back games in the regular season since dropping four in a row in 2007, Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa. That also marks their last loss to Mississippi State. They lost their regular-season finale to Auburn in 2008 and then the Sugar Bowl to Utah, but haven't lost consecutive outings since.
The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-4 SEC) are coming off an open date after ending a four-game losing streak with a 54-24 rout of Arkansas in their last outing. Coach Joe Moorhead expects to get the Tide's best shot.
"In my mind we are not anticipating any lingering effect or hangover or anything where they have their chins on their chest," Moorhead said. "I would imagine that I know what Coach Saban is going to stress to the team and the type of players they have. We are expecting their best and they are going to get our best as well."
The Bulldogs are one of the top rushing teams in the conference (No. 3 at 217.0 ypg) and have the league's top rusher in running back Kylin Hill (1,027). They have been playing two quarterbacks, and freshman Garrett Shrader and senior Tommy Stevens are separated by an "or" at No. 1 on the depth chart for this game.
"The good news is that Garrett is back to being completely healthy," Moorhead said. "We went through practice yesterday and both the guys got reps. Tommy got most of the reps with the 1s and Garrett with the 2s. We are going to continue to progress it through and see how Garrett is coming along."
Shrader is considered more of a runner (504 rushing yards) and Stevens a passer (687 passing yards in six games), though Saban doesn't see it that way.
"I don't really think that I see a lot of difference in what they do whichever quarterback plays," Saban said. "They kind of run their offense. They run a lot of quarterback runs with both guys, and they run the same kind of passing game with both guys."
Saban said his quarterback, junior Tua Tagovailoa, came out of the loss to LSU a little sore after going the distance with his sprained ankle, but no further issues developed. Tagovailoa had ankle surgery the day after the Tide's win over Tennessee.
"We'll have to manage it day to day," Saban said.
--Field Level Media
Updated November 13, 2019